Monday, August 29, 2016

perching on the peak

perching on the peak
of great blue lobelia blossoms
a blue damselfly

The striped lavender-blue trumpets of great blue lobelia are growing up between the giant leaves of what might be cup plants. I have my doubts about whether these really are cup plants because the small leaves on the tall stalks don't form cups at the base, but are connected with a petiole.

At the tip of the lobelia's panicle of purple-lipped blossoms a blue "darning needle" perches. The damselfly eats other insects, so I don't think she's looking for nectar. Perhaps she's preparing to lay eggs on the plant. 

This native perennial makes a bright splash of blue in late summer among the many yellow flowers. Its Latin name, Lobelia siphilitica, comes from the use of the roots by Native Americans to cure syphilis. Great blue lobelia blooms at the same time as its cousin, cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis. Both have fringed tubular flowers, but they attract totally different pollinators. Bees and wasps prefer blue flowers, whereas hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies seek out red blossoms. Even when the cousins grow side by side, they will not cross-pollinate. Clever Nature!

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